The phrase Sports Utility Vehicle, or SUV, has become common in today’s new-car market. The phrase tends to conjure up images of big, tough, tall 4×4-type vehicles, and this category of car has long been one of the most competitive on the market because everybody loves their road presence and go anywhere, do-anything attitude.
Very few people are in love with their running costs, though. A big, four-wheel drive SUV takes a lot of mechanical effort to move, and its engine will probably consume enough fuel to give even the fittest of wallets severe shortages of breath. Fortunately, never willing to miss out on a sales opportunity, car manufacturers have realised that not everybody needs an SUV’s powerful all-terrain capability – especially when forgoing this leads to lower running costs.
For the most part today’s SUVs are fairly heavily road-biased; the beaten track being by far their most common habitat. Increasingly, though, they are becoming available with no real rough-terrain capability at all. While this could be seen as defeating the point of the SUV, the truth couldn’t be more different, because every other attribute remains intact. Though tackling off-road trails is no longer on the menu, you still get the high driving position and commanding view of the road, the same road presence and the same desirable image.
What’s more, you’re saving money thanks to the higher fuel efficiency while retaining a big, useful boot and space for all the family. Think of the modern, fuel-efficient two-wheel drive SUV as a taller, more butch looking estate and you wouldn’t be far from the mark. Don’t despair if you don’t want an estate car, though – there is another way.
The crossover is a fairly recent phenomenon and could be just what you’re looking for. These are closely related to regular family hatchbacks, but feature styling that draws on SUV influences, often with rugged-looking body panelling, a raised ride height and chunky alloy wheels. Cars like these tend to be far lighter, further increasing fuel efficiency and saving you yet more money.
To make matters more complicated, there are crossovers that offer four-wheel drive, but these are still usually far less expensive to run than their full-fat SUV counterparts.
Read on for our top 10 list of the best economical SUVs and Crossovers you can buy today.